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Frederick Chiluba, Zambia’s first President dies

Frederick Chiluba, Zambia’s first democratically elected president, has died at home at the age of 68.

Mr Chiluba was hailed as Zambia’s “liberator” by his supporters when he came to office in 1991 after 27 years of single party Socialist rule.

He won praise for his economic and political reforms but was later accused of embezzlement and turning a blind eye to corruption.

The cause of his death is not known but he was known to have heart problems.

Under Mr Chiluba, Zambia was considered to be a model of African democracy and his presidency was welcomed in the West.

The former trade union leader and son of a copper miner introduced many reforms which dismantled the restrictive policies of former President Kenneth Kaunda.

But he was dogged by corruption allegations and was accused of taking an authoritarian approach to his political opponents, firing critical colleagues and jailing outspoken journalists.

He attempted to alter the constitution to allow him to run for a third term in office in 2001, but stood down after huge public protests.

Mr Chiluba was prosecuted for alleged embezzlement in 2002 but acquitted after a six-year trial.

In 2007, he was convicted of fraud by a London court and ordered to repay $58m in embezzled funds, but the ruling was never carried out by Zambia.

He spent his final years at his resident in Lusaka, confined by ill health and the confiscation of his passport by the authorities.


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